Softball: UW drops two games against Iowa in first home series

Senior pitcher Cassandra Darrah and the Badgers went 1-2 in their series against Iowa.

Senior pitcher Cassandra Darrah and the Badgers went 1-2 in their series against Iowa.

Image By: Shoaib Altaf and Shoaib Altaf

There was still ice on Lake Mendota when the Badgers (16-14 overall, 2-4 Big Ten) took the field in their first home series of the season against Iowa (9-15, 4-2) this weekend.

The lake wasn’t all that was cold; the Badgers’ bats froze up as well, costing them two of the three games they played.

In the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader, Wisconsin could not muster up enough offense, losing 4-1.

Senior pitcher Cassandra Darrah got roughed up early, allowing two runs in the first inning, and that was all Iowa needed to win.

Junior outfielder Maria Van Abel scored on a close play at the plate in the third, but the Hawkeyes responded with another two runs in the fifth, including a solo home run by senior pitcher Kayla Massey.

While Darrah let in more runs than usual, she did strike out 12 batters—her season high.

“She struck a ton of kids out, but they put the hits together. We’ve got to look at how we can space out the hits of their best kids, and be a little sharper defensively,” head coach Yvette Healy said.

The Badgers went with an aggressive base running approach in the first game. They attempted five bunts in the game, with two successful bunts and two sacrifice bunts that moved up the base runners. Along with the good plays came mistakes, however, with all three outs in the third inning coming from being picked off.

“We’re a pretty aggressive team, that’s usually our game plan,” Healy said. “They’re excellent defensive team, their catcher is one of the best in the conference … but we were really pleased we were able to put some pressure on them.”

In game two on Saturday, the Badgers turned around their offense, winning 8-4. Wisconsin started off hot, scoring four in the second inning. Part of their success came from a double steal by junior infielder Megan Tancill and junior outfielder Marissa Mersch which caused a throwing error, scoring Mersch. Stealing is a key part of the Badgers’ offense; they lead the Big Ten in stolen bases as well as steals attempted.

“I think our team as a whole does a great job base running. If you can get a base ahead, you’re going to have a better chance to score, and a single will score someone,” Mersch said.

Sunday’s game was a near repeat of the first, with the Badgers falling 4-1. Wisconsin’s only run came from a double from freshman shortstop Sarah Novak, scoring Mersch, who had stolen a base earlier in the at bat. Iowa had a home run in the second inning that scored a run, as well as a deep double in the seventh that scored a run, both aided by a stiff wind going out to left field.

However, the wind wasn’t the Badgers’ killer; they made mistakes as well. In the second inning, Darrah walked two batters and hit two more, scoring one run. In the seventh, Novak had an error that moved up base runners who eventually went around to score.

“I can’t get frustrated yet, we are a young team. We’re putting the pieces together and we’ve made some big improvements, so it’ll come together, it’s just about time,” junior outfielder Maria Van Abel said.

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